JUDY DYBLE Talking With Strangers (Brilliant/FiXiT)

A Fairporter of the first order as well as a member of proto-King Crimson ensemble Giles, Giles and Fripp, Judy Dyble has, in a similar fashion to Vashti Bunyan, ended decades of domesticity and musical silence after being rediscovered by The Kids, in her case Tim Bowness of No-Man. Unsurprisingly given her roots, her fourth solo album "Talking With Strangers" is a star-studded prog-folk melting point that features appearances from members of Fairport, Crimso, Pentangle, All About Eve and Trees.

Alternately lushly lyrical and harshly jazzy "Talking With Strangers" covers a deal of ground in a relatively short space of time. "Neverknowing" and the title track are really quite lovely, finding the album at its most Bunyanesque; "Dreamtime" is a lilting, minor key patchwork ambience. "Grey October Day" is as intentionally drear as its title, being draggy, drifting jazz with a barking saxophone chorus. The autobiographical "Harpsong" is the album's major work, at 19 minutes occupying almost half the disc's duration. Propelled by Dyble's gliding autoharp figures, its clear-eyed recollections ("I turned to books and changed my looks...I closed my ears for thirty years") are somewhat undercut by breathy, angelic backing vocals that over-egg the sentimentality a little. Nevertheless, this is an encouraging, heart-warming and subtly challenging album of the kind that you might find yourself glad that people still make.

Fairport Convention